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Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Is it War?

In July of 2007, a young man was laid out, bedecked in the dress uniform of a New York City patrolman but, instead of the traditional policeman's cap with frontispiece, he wore a paper headband inscribed with the words:

"Holy God, holy mighty, holy immortal, have mercy on us."

And so Russell Timoshenko, age 23, was laid to rest, with 10,000 in attendance to grieve the loss. And I wonder how many of those mourners wondered, as they climbed back into their patrol cars for the long drive back to their home precincts or their home states or their homelands, if war had silently been declared on their kind.

So far this year, fourteen police officers have died in the line of duty-- nine of them have been shot to death, and two incidents, both in Florida, resulted in the deaths of two police officers from the same department. Safety in numbers is often just an illusion, as is sickeningly demonstrated in this photograph below.

Oakland, California. There is no safety in numbers-- not in the game of cops n' robbers. And I think about how many of the thousands of mourners in Oakland wondered, as they filed into this stadium in March of 2009, wondered if it was war that was being waged against them in the streets.

Cop-killing is nothing new in America. It's been around since 1792, when a sheriff's deputy in New York was attempting to effect and arrest, and the suspect shot him through a closed door. Statistically speaking, a law enforcement officer falls or is felled in this country every 52 hours. That's an average, and there is no law to this average. There are spates, and spikes, and ebbs and flows. Random or premeditated, there is no way to predict or be sure. They say that Christmas Day is an exceedingly dangerous day to be a police officer in America-- but, in 2010, only one police officer died on December the 25th. He had a heart attack while struggling with an intoxicated 16-year-old female. Nothing to do with Christmas-- just happened to be that call on that day that brought those two people together in Uvalde County, Texas.

I bristle just a little bit when I read stories run by the Associated Press or Reuters or whomever it is questioning whether or not a "war is being waged" on police officers in America because a few pathetic, cowardly motherfuckers have decided to get themselves out of whatever trouble they're in by cutting down a cop or two. As I've said before on this blog, there was only ever one "war against the police" in this country, and it was bloody, and it was real, and it was organized. The Black Liberation Army, a violent off-shoot of the Black Panthers waged a campaign to execute random police officers from New York to California and many places in between from the late 1960s to the early 1980s, resulting in the deaths of dozens of officers and the wounding/maiming of many more.

What is happening now in this country? It's deplorable. It's sad. But it is not war.

As human beings with an often imperfect grasp on what is happening around us, we fear what we do not understand, and that's understandable. To call a few cop-killings that just happen to be clustered together during the month of January "war" is a knee-jerk, it is irresponsible and sensational journalism (at best), and it is, to my way of thinking, disrespectful to the memory of the police officers who died. Call it a tragedy. Call it the shame of the nation. Call it sad, because it is. But don't call it war. Or, if you want to call it war, fine-- but then every police officer who is murdered by a felon trying to flee in the night was a war hero, because this war, if that's what it is, has been raging since 1792 and, as long as there are armed shitheads who don't want to go (usually back) to jail, then police officers are going to die.

And we will continue to say, numbed and hurt and lost, "Holy God, holy mighty, holy immortal, have mercy on us."

Have mercy on us.


  1. Oakland Ca:

    It's funny how rich white people think cops are the good guys. Maybe they are in the suburbs.

  2. It's not funny when anybody makes a generalization about a group of people, be they "rich white people" or "cops" or "suburban housewives."

    There are assholes among us all.

  3. Scribbler-- Thanks for the comment and the link to the deplorable shooting of an unarmed, detained suspect by a BART police officer.

    While the clip and incident had absolutely nothing to do with the content of my post, it does demonstrate my wife's point about how there "are assholes among all of us" and that the actions of one police officer, or ten, or a hundred, or a thousand, do not color or imply anything about the remainder of the 800,000 police officers across this country.

    And it certainly has nothing to do with what I wrote in this post.

    By the way-- I wrote a scathing commentary about the BART shooting, and have written others decrying violence perpetrated by police officers. Not that you cared to comment on those posts.

    Oh, and I'm not rich-- as I'm sure my dear wife was tempted to point out, too. But thanks for the compliment.

  4. It's impossible to make a statement about the external world without generalization.

    However, this is actually a statement about statistics. White people are overwhelmingly supportive of police. That declines the further you move down the poverty line and across the color line. Which is expected as police atrocities increase in this direction. They know who they work for.

    The Bart officer incident only made the news because there were hundreds of witnesses, many of whom had cameras. Charges were only brought because of rioting. The officer was only given 2 years for manslaughter and will no doubt be free in a few months from now. For every police incident that makes news, hundreds if not thousands go unreported, as I've witnessed first hand.

    History has shown us that any government based on force is a necessary evil at best, and no government is at its best.

    The rich white people comment need not be taken personally as it was a general comment about who controls the media and how it lens is always severely skewed toward status quo authority.

    However, I'm sure that you are a rich white person. If you live in America above the poverty line, which I'm sure you do, then you are one of the richest people in the world. You enjoy this status because you actively support an oppressive, murdering corporatocracy.

    I suppose I did compliment you by assuming you would see that me obliterating your fantasy worldview of authoritarian benevolence with a single video was relevant to your post. Despite police propaganda and cop worshipping fluff pieces like this one, statistics show that the job is not very dangerous at all. Except to those poor souls who get to see the darkside of absolute authority with little to no oversight.

  5. Hahahahaha!


    You sure told me.


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